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Trent's Last Case (Phillip Trent #1)

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,763 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
"One of the few genuine classics of detective fiction." — The New York Times.

The case begins when millionaire American financier Sigsbee Manderson is murdered while on holiday in England. A London newspaper sends Trent to investigate, and he is soon matching wits with Scotland Yard's Inspector Murth as they probe ever deeper in search of a solution to a mystery filled wit
Paperback, 176 pages
Published July 11th 1997 by Dover Publications (first published 1913)
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Oct 06, 2008 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detective
Perhaps the first "cosy" detective story. Has the distinction of being lauded by Dorothy Sayers and derided by Raymond Chandler.

The plot is clever, and still works today, even if the setting seems alien to the modern reader.

Extra points from me because E.C. Bentley was my great grandfather.
Derek Davis
May 05, 2012 Derek Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Odd to give 5 stars to a mystery whose first half seemed stilted and somewhat formulaic. Yet if it seems formulaic, in part it's because, having been written in 1913, it invents part of the formula.

But then comes the second half. Unfolding one of the most complicated plots ever put down in writing, it ends with a triple switch that, at the same time, takes you full circle back to a suggestion of motive at the first meeting of Trent and another major character.

But what makes it truly sterling is
DeAnna Knippling
A slow opening with huge chunks of twisty prose. But ever so enjoyable afterwards. Reads pretty much like a modern mystery novel, for all that it was written in 1913.
Jul 17, 2011 Tony rated it really liked it
Bentley, E. C. (Edmund Clerihew). (1913). ****.
I remember trying to read this widely praised detective novel about forty years ago, but wa put off by the style of writing used by the author. Forty years later, I’m better able to recognize temporal differences and preferences in style and successfully finished the novel. Bentley wrote the book as a reaction to the types of detective novels of the time, where the protagonist was not fully developed, but was recognized by some of his more personal
Jan 27, 2016 Mizuki marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
DNF at page 92. I know, this book is a murder mystery classic but I just couldn't get into the story and be interested enough to continue. Will try again later...much later.
Jul 01, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction, kindle

This book, which was published in 1913, gets three stars for the mystery (and one of those is for the satisfying final twist). It gets 1/2 star for reputedly being the first "golden age" British mystery. It gets another 1/2 star because the great Dorothy L Sayers was a friend (and fan) of the author. All of these factors combined to make me like it a lot.

I had never heard of Bentley or of his detective Phillip Trent until I recently read The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1899-1936: The Making o
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.
Jill Hutchinson
Feb 05, 2014 Jill Hutchinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, my-classics
This book consistently shows up on "greatest mysteries" lists and with good reason. Written in 1913, it is considered the first of the "golden age" mysteries but does not have your typical infallible Holmesian-style detective.

Phillip Trent, an artist, journalist and amateur detective is on the case of a murdered millionaire and he starts out with a bang. All his deductions make perfect sense based on the clues but instead, they are all wrong. The story has more turns than an alpine highway and a
Jun 19, 2015 Fanficfan44 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This mystery appears on many lists as one of the “must read” books for mystery fans. This is considered the first of the Golden age of Detective fiction books. Despite the title this is actually the first in the Trent books. Trent is an artist, who upon request does some investigating and solves mysteries. He is asked by a newspaper man to investigate the death of a wealthy financier. Philip Trent accepts and the fun begins … for the reader.

As a reader you need to keep in mind that this was the
Aug 10, 2015 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great read. It's one of the first classic detective stories I've read where I did NOT come to the right conclusions, even though the ending made total total sense once we got there. Lots of fun twists, plus romance, revenge, logical thinking, wealthy idiosyncrasies, and madness. I listened to this as a free download from
Nov 29, 2014 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This worked really well as an audiobook. I found the first part a bit slow but about halfway through the book it really took off with lots of twists and turns which certainly kept me guessing. Interesting characters, great plotline and even some love interest for Trent thrown in. I really enjoyed it.
May 31, 2014 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#1 in the Philip Trent series. Listed in Ninety Classics of Crime Fiction 1900-1975 ed. Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor.
Despite the title, this was not Trent's last case - the 1913 novel was followed by Trent's Own Case (1936), written with H. Warner Allen, and finally by Trent Intervenes (1938, a collection of short stories. Dedicated to G.K. Chesterton in return for that author's The Man Who Was Thursday (1908), this novel was meant to be a humorous response to the deadly serious Sher
May 28, 2015 William rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lauded as the first Golden Age Mystery (and written nearly a decade before Christie turned out The Mysterious Affair at Styles), TLC is one of those pieces of art difficult to review precisely on the merits of its importance to the genre. To me, an avid reader of the genre living over 100 years out beyond its original publication, this is a 3-star effort. It's not difficult to surmise, however, just how much the genre owes to this inaugural work...enough to make it a relative 5 stars at the time ...more
Janet Mahlum
Oct 15, 2015 Janet Mahlum rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book I actually read was TRENT'S CASE BOOK and consisted of "Trent's Last Case," "Trent's Own Case," and "Trent Intervenes" which was actually a series of unrelated very short little vignettes. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all three. My dear, Dr. Watson, I don't much care for Sherlock Holmes, nor, mon ami, Hercule Peroit. But Philip Trent is absolutely delightful. He's modest, unassuming, and a jolly good bloke. It was fun to read a book written 100 years ago - the pace was slower, the rhyth ...more
2.5* A decent light read. For some reason the first half of the book didn't grab me.
Graham Powell
This classic case of detection from 1913 has a well-known twist (which I will not spoil for you), but knowing it does not reduce the enjoyment of reading very much. After a very slow, but mercifully short, first chapter, the book picks up quite for a while - though it later slows to lots and lots of expostulation.

Philip Trent, artist, amateur detective, and sometimes newspaper correspondent, is hired to investigate the murder of wealthy American magnate Sigbee Manderson at his seaside home in En
Steve Chaput
Although called "Trent's Last Case" (published 1912), here E.C. Bentley introduces the British jounalist/artist/detective, in what was the first of several featuring the author's not always subtle spoof of British detective thrillers. It was later adapted several times for film,including the 1952 production with Orson Welles, Margaret Lockwood & Michael Wilding (as Trent). This later film made some changes in the plot, under the direction of Herbert Wilcox.

In Bentley's novel, Trent is hired
Aug 13, 2011 Shireen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think it was an Amazon Kindle group thread on good public domain books to read that I heard of this one. I downloaded it to my iPod Touch and read it using the Stanza app.

Apparently Bentley was a newspaperman, who wrote Trent's Last Case in 1913. There's no doubt writers wrote differently back then, and I found the story-telling method of that era a bit slow at first, and it was many weeks before I picked it up again. I'm glad I did. After the intro, this book is a deceptively mild meandering
Dianne Owens
Jul 17, 2013 Dianne Owens rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read a lot of mystery books in my life. Seeing a reading available via librivox, I decided to listen to the stream for a bit. Satisfied with a few minutes of Kirsten Wever narration of the prologue, I decided to download and listen to the book in its entirety. The book straddles the line between murder mystery and PG romance quite well, making it a rather pleasant change from what I typically read.

When powerful businessman Sigsbee Manderson is found murdered, newspaper reporter Phi
Apr 16, 2012 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-crime
The First Modern Detective Story.

Edmund Clerihew Bentley( yes, he invented the Clerihew), wrote this book as a gift for G.K. Chesterton, who had written HIS masterpiece, The Man Who Was Thursday for Bentley. It was intended to blow up the myth of the "infallible" detective. Anyone who loves the whole late Edwardian, Upstairs Downstairs/ Downton Abbey world will delight in this book. Phillip Trent, an highly imaginative Artst Detective, tries to solve the puzzling murder of Sigbee Manderson, ha
Eustacia Tan
Jul 11, 2012 Eustacia Tan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ok, I admit it, I didn't know what to read. It seems like for the last few books, I've been reading nothing but cozies (sorry, it's my favourite subgenre!). So, after searching the Internet, I found a parody of the Mystery genre - Trent's Last Case by E.C. Bentley.

Trent's Last Case follows the titular character, who amusingly, doesn't solve the case at the end (in his deduction, he was tricked by the murderer). It's really amusing, and doesn't have much (if any) of a serious tone.

Trent, the her
Simon Mcleish
Jul 17, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published on my blog here in May 2000.

Despite the title, Trent's Last Case was the first of Bentley's novels featuring Philip Trent, a detective conceived as a deliberate contrast to Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes is a collection of eccentricities, part of a line of fictional detectives whose mannerisms are more important than their characters; Hercule Poirot is another example. Trent was intended to be more realistic; a man with more or less normal tastes, who was even allowed to b
Aug 05, 2011 Brynna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I think this probably deserves a higher rating, but my expectations were so high that it was all too easy to be disappointed. The edition of this book that I read (not necessarily the edition shown, since I don't know what the cover of the edition I checked out looks like) had all kinds of footnotes, citing Trent's quotations and pointing out some (though, in my opinion, not all) that had not been traced to their source, making comments about Raymond Chandler's reviews, pointing out differences ...more
Jun 05, 2010 rabbitprincess rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with the time and patience to appreciate "older" writing style
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Top 100 list
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was another highly recommended book from one of the Who-dun-it discussion forums I participate in.The book has a lot going for it- a suave "detective", a sweet little romance running in parallel and an apparently intricate plot. Despite all this however, when I ended the book. it was not with a feeling of having read a great book. I was in fact relieved to end it.

I think my major problem was with the structure of the story telling. Mr Bentley appears to be jumping all over the place and app
Apparently the first of the "Golden Age" detective stories first published in 1912. Humourous, light-hearted and a nice contrast to the Sherlock Holmes melodramas that preceded it. Trent emerges as witty, intelligent, likeable and seemingly infallible amateur detective. The style has a very modern feel to it (electric lights and cars!), I had to keep checking the date of publication; the setting and tone could have been from a 1960s Agatha Christie novel and the plot, involving pathological jeal ...more
Trent's Last Case was the first book by EC Bentley in the Trent series, which only consisted of 3 books, the other two being Trent's Own Case and a book of short stories. The book is dedicated to his friend, GK Chesterton, who wrote The Man Who Was Thursday. Trent is an artist and sometime contributor to The Record, when requested by the owner. In this instance he is asked to investigate an interesting murder/ suicide of a rich American living in England to see if he can ascertain the culprit. T ...more
I would venture to guess that most people haven't heard of this book, though I think it has an interesting place in history of detective fiction. The blatant racism of the day does appear in the story, which I always find a bit disappointing and unnerving. I can get past that, as one has to do to enjoy golden era detective fiction, but I just wasn't as engaged in the story as with other mysteries that I've read. That said, here is what I like and appreciate about it:

1. I had no idea what was go
Apr 05, 2008 Dfordoom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
Published in 1936. The detective hero of the novel, Philip Trent, is an artist who works part-time as a journalist on spectacular crime stories. It’s one of those crime novels that doesn’t show the police as blundering fools – he gets on well with the detective-inspector assigned to the case an has great respect for him. The case involves the murder of a billionaire American industrialist in England. What make this book unusual is that the love story that is tied up with the murder story is give ...more
Jeff Miller
Jul 29, 2011 Jeff Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is one of those free gems you find on Project Gutenberg/Librivox.

The novel was actually written as a challenge by G.K. Chesterton to the author concerning creating a detective that was kind of an anti-Sherlock Holmes.

Trent is a successful painter who became interested in solving mysteries after reading newspaper accounts of crimes. In the past he was very successful concerning the cases he came in contact with. Though he is also fallible, but not a bumbler and his instincts are partl
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E. C. Bentley (full name Edmund Clerihew Bentley; 10 July 1875 – 30 March 1956) was a popular English novelist and humorist of the early twentieth century, and the inventor of the clerihew, an irregular form of humorous verse on biographical topics. One of the best known is this (1905):

Sir Christopher Wren
Said, "I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls
Say I am designing St. Paul's."

More about E.C. Bentley...

Other Books in the Series

Phillip Trent (3 books)
  • Trent's Own Case
  • Trent Intervenes

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